Canada supports Kenya’s First Annual National Children’s Government Conference

Danny Kinaro, The National Children’s Government President takes the oath of office.

A Pupil presents a poem on child-friendly learning environment.

High Commissioner David Angell and Danny Kinaro, The National Children’s Government President.

Earlier this year, over 400 elected pupil representatives from primary schools across Kenya attended a colorful swearing -in ceremony of the National Children’s Government, the first of its kind in the country.

The event held in June was supported by the Kenyan Primary Schools Head Teachers Association (KEPSHA) and UNCIEF with funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD). The ceremony that coincided with the Day of the African Child was also attended by senior Kenyan Government officials and several dignitaries including the Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya, David Angell.

Stepping up to the podium for the first time to take oath of office of the President of the National Children’s Government, 13 year-old Danny Kinaro promised to serve the office without fear and prejudice. He was followed by the speaker and deputy speaker of the Children’s National Assembly and his cabinet to loud applauses confirming the Government’s acceptance by the youthful leaders at the venue. 

“It is time that our voices [as the youth] are heard. It is time that we made a change”, said Danny Kinaro, The National Children’s Government President.

Only days earlier, elected pupil representatives from Kenya’s 47 Counties gathered in the capital Nairobi for the National Children’s Government Summit that included nominations, elections and the first-ever children’s government parliamentary session. Following heated debates in ‘parliament’ and a transparent, free and fair election through ballot; the National Children’s Government was duly elected into their respective positions.

UNICEF also led pupils through an innovative, child-centred design workshop at the Summit to map out actionable steps to making schools more inclusive, protective, healthy, and equitable.  Through the workshop, the children generated more than 4,000 ideas on how to improve quality education for all with 185 of the ideas selected for debate in the Children’s Government’s inaugural parliamentary session. Following debate the children voted for their top ten children’s government priorities which were articulated at the swearing in ceremony.

The National Children’s Government Summit is part of a larger partnership in which Canada is providing UNICEF with $6.9 million to put into practice innovative new ways of delivering quality education in a child-friendly learning environment. Introducing Children’s Governments in primary schools in Kenya is one of these innovative new practices.

“Quality education starts with a school that offers a nurturing and stimulating environment, where parents and communities are actively involved in their children’s education; where children have a voice in decision-making; where children learn to become thinkers, innovators, and producers of knowledge, rather than just reproducers of knowledge. Canada and Kenya share a commitment to securing the future of children and youth.”

High Commissioner, David Angell.

UNICEF in partnership with the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Education conducted a survey in 2008 to establish the relevance of student participation in school governance. This survey has contributed to the establishment of Child Friendly School practices by empowering students to take part in the decision making process for a more cohesive school community and conducive learning environment.  The survey also indicated that student participation in school management tends to improve learning and instills positive values in children.

The concept of Children’s Governments began last year during the Annual KEPSHA Delegates’ Conference with the concept now spread to more than 20,000 schools in Kenya with school-based, child-centered elections taking place across the country.

 “We are proud to have co-planted the seed of how children can use their voices and their votes to advocate for their collective right to education, health, nutrition and protection. We are excited to nurture this seed and to watch the results for children continue to grow and grow”, said the UNICEF Kenya Representative, Kanyankore Marcel Rudasingwa.

This partnership between UNICEF, the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Education, KEPSHA and Canada has further established the Children’s Government as a pillar of child-friendly education.

“As a champion of democracy and children's voices worldwide, Canada strongly supports the Government of Kenya's efforts to promote school environments that nurture these values”, said the Canadian High Commission's First Secretary Valérie Sara Price who was the DFATD development officer overseeing the project.